A History of the Famed Road

The Croissete, Cannes‘ iconic seaside promenade, is embarking upon its latest renovation. “The City of Cannes has embarked on a major refurbishment and redevelopment program for this legendary boulevard, a leading attraction and key employment generator, reflecting its role as a prestigious, event-based and public venue,” a website dedicated to the renovation says.

The reinvention actually fits quite naturally into its proud history of evolution and transformation. Over the past two centuries, the Croisette has morphed from a dirt path used by pilgrims to attracting tourists to also becoming a Cannes Film Festival fixture and place to party.

Join THR on a walk through the history of the famous road that stretches along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea.

1834 England’s Lord Henry Brougham, on a tour of the Mediterranean, visits the small fishing town of Cannes after a cholera outbreak closes off Nice. Enchanted by Cannes, he builds an estate, and visits from his aristocratic contacts almost single-handedly turn the area into a holiday destination.

1853 Cannes Mayor Marius Barbe proposes turning an abandoned coastal dirt road known as chemin de la petite croix (path of the little cross), which was once used by pilgrims visiting the abbey on Saint-Honorat Island, into a public promenade.

1860 Four years after a group of 26 local landowners agree to cover the majority of the costs, construction begins on a 16-foot-wide seaside road.

1863 Construction is completed on La Croisette, as the Paris-Lyon-Mediterranean railway begins building a Cannes route. It soon attracts businesses catering to tourists, and the following year the Hôtel Gonnet, the Grand Hôtel, and Cercle Nautique are built along the road.

1866 The street is renamed Boulevard de l’Impératrice (Boulevard of the Empress). It is widened to 65 feet and lined with palm trees, benches, and gas lighting fixtures.

1871 After the start of France’s Third Republic, the promenade returns to its original name, Boulevard de la Croisette.

1891-93 A 1.25-mile artificial beach is added to the seaward side of the street.

1900-13 The Albert-Edouard jetty is built at the western end of La Croisette to support the bustling water traffic of Cannes, and the Carlton Cannes hotel and Municipal Casino are built.

1926 The art deco-style Hotel Barrière Le Majestic opens. It was developed by Henri Ruhl, an entrepreneur who also owned the Carlton Cannes and Municipal Casino.

1946 After World War II had upended plans for a film festival in 1939, the inaugural Cannes International Film Festival opens on Sept. 20.

1947-’50s With most of the area having been rebuilt after the devastation of the war, the Cercle Nautique is replaced by the Palais Croisette. The film festival explodes in popularity, with the likes of Cary Grant, Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly, and Kirk Douglas in attendance.

1960s A major redesign of La Croisette shapes the boulevard as it is known by festivalgoers today.

1982-83 A new Palais des Festivals is built to replace the smaller Palais Croisette, which is demolished in 1988.

September 2022 The winning design for the upcoming Croisette renovation is unveiled. The project will be spearheaded by Atelier d’Urbanité Roland Castro, architectural firm Snohetta and engineering firm WSP.

Early 2024 Renovation commences.

2028 The renovation is scheduled for completion, positioning the landmark boulevard for the decades to come. 


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